The Eagles took a major gamble two seasons ago when they signed Michael Vick. That gamble has since paid off in spades, as Vick is now one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Another gamble could soon pay off for the Birds, if they decide to go after 6’5 former Super Bowl hero wide receiver, Plaxico Burress.
Rumors were already spreading that Burress could join the Eagles when he was released from prison on Monday. He only fueled those rumors when he wore a Phillies hat on his way out , finally a free man.
Whether or not the Eagles are actually interested at this point is unknown, and Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer says that nothing he has heard from the team makes him believe they could be interested.
If that is true, the Eagles are making a mistake. If it is true that Burress is interested in coming to Philadelphia, which is what his close friend Brandon Jacobs said, they should jump on that opportunity and bring in the former Pro-Bowl receiver.
For starters, there is absolutely no comparison between Michael Vick’s ordeal and Burress. Vick made a conscious decision to break the law, lied about it, and paid the consequences. Burress didn’t know to carry the gun, but you would be hard pressed to find an injury lawyer who feels Burress was not made an example of when he was sentenced to such a harsh punishment. What Burress did was wrong, but bringing him in will not- and should not- bring the same resentment the signing of Vick did from the fans.
Having Burress in the same locker room as Vick, the man who is now the poster child for turning around a career, will only help the Eagles get value from the former Super Bowl Champion. The fact they are both friends from Virginia, and have spoken to each other during Burress’s time in prison, only makes the possibility of Burress succeeding in Philadelphia even stronger. In fact, don’t be surprised to see Burress and Vick work out together before the lock out is over- maybe even in New Jersey.
If you look past the off the field issues, Burress’s body of work speaks for itself when it comes to filling the Eagles needs. The Eagles are deep at wide receiver, but that does not mean there is no room for improvement. The Eagles talented group of wide outs are small, and in general, have come up small in the playoffs.
DeSean Jackson, the team’s number one wide out, is the number one reason fans should want to sign Burress. Jackson is one of the most explosive players in the league, but at times has shown he can be taken out of the game due to his size. Jackson burns teams with his speed, but teams that take away his vertical game are pretty much able to make him a non factor. Jackson also has trouble in the red zone due to his size, an area the Eagles offense struggled with.
In addition, Jackson has come up small in the playoffs, where in his 5 playoff games, he has had more then 3 catches only twice. He has one career post season touchdown reception, which came against Arizona in 2008.
Plaxico Burress, in many ways, fills every hole in Jacksons game. Burress is tall, fast, and physical. He has had a touchdown reception of over 40 yards every year except two in which he has been in the league, so he is also capable of being a down the field threat. Burress’s size would immediately change the Eagles red zone offense, where the 6’5 wide receiver could step on the field tomorrow and be an immediate threat. He does not have to be in peak physical shape to run 7 yards, turn and jump.
As for Burress post season play, you only need to ask the Green Bay Packers, the very team that Jackson came up small against, what a game changer Burress can be. In 11 post season games, Burress has had at least 4 catches 6 times, and has 6 career post season touchdowns.
Signing Burress does not mean the Eagles should not award Jackson with a contract, or in anyway take away balls thrown his way. A 4 wide receiver set of Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Burress and Jason Avant will be trouble for any team. With Micheal Vick in the shot gun, it may be near impossible to stop.
Burress will be inexpensive to sign, and if he is even 80 percent of the player he was 2-years ago, the Eagles will have themselves another weapon with capabilities different than every other receiver on the ball club.
The Eagles need to continue to reap the rewards of signing Vick by taking their offense to the next level and signing Burress.